Local TV Programming Coming to Navajo Reservation

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Communities on the Navajo Reservation will soon be able to receive local television programming for the first time, Navajo officials said Wednesday.

The idea of locally generated broadcasts in major reservation communities has been under discussion for more than a decade, but is now close to becoming a reality, said Kee Long, director of the Broadcast Services Department for the Navajo Nation.

"We're soon to be providing two channels to several communities," Long said.

One channel will be for local programming, such as live broadcasts of the Navajo Nation Council meetings and education programs provided by Diné College or other schools on the reservation. The second channel will relay KNME, Albuquerque's public television channel.

The content on the Navajo channel will be limited at first, said Kee, but as the station gets up and running, more programming will be aired.

"We've been getting a lot of calls from schools and other organizations that say they have available content for us to use," Long said, adding that much of it will be in the Navajo language.

The need to preserve the language was one a key point the tribe used in getting the license from the Federal Communications Commission for two low-power channels to serve the reservation.

The plan is to broadcast in digital format, although the tribe's equipment is analog. Most of the U.S. has been converting to digital broadcasts, Long noted, adding, "We're hoping to be up and running in June or July but we have to get all of the permits so if that is delayed, it won't be until the fall."

The first areas to get the new channels will be Window Rock, Tohatchi and Shiprock. He added that the signal will reach communities around these towns.